Leaving Your Kids With an Overnight Sitter: A Guide

By Alicia Geigel on August 15, 2023

While most parents enlist the help of babysitters for daytime work, there are some occasions where you might have to ask for a late-night sitter that needs to spend the night. In that scenario, an overnight babysitter will stay in your home through the night until the next day. Finding an overnight babysitter doesn’t have to be difficult, but if you’re wondering what to expect when you hire one for the first time, keep reading!

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1. Talk With the Potential Sitter: The first step in making the decision to go with an overnight babysitter is to talk with them first. Whether you met them through a babysitting website, were referred to them by a friend, or knew them through a mutual connection, it’s great to arrange a sit-down before you make the commitment to hire them. Introduce yourself to them, ask questions about their history with babysitting, their educational background, what they like about babysitting, and if they have references that can give them credible reviews. Through this basic interviewing process, you should be able to have enough information to make a decision to move forward and hire them, or move on to the next candidate.

2. Have Them Babysit During the Day: If you found the right candidate to babysit your kids, great! You can now move on and slowly introduce your babysitter to your kids by having them babysit during the day. Doing so can help you feel more at ease and also give your babysitter an idea of how your kids behave, the rules of the house, the layout of the house, etc. Put simply, it’s a good idea to get yourself and your kids familiar with your babysitter, so when they eventually do spend the night, it is a lot more comfortable for everyone!

3. Host a Sleepover First: It may be a weird suggestion, but if you want to go an extra step to get your babysitter comfortable with spending the night, host a sleepover while you’re at home first. Unusual, yes, but not a bad idea! Let your babysitter get familiar with how you do your nighttime routine with your kids, such as: doing homework, studying for tests, having TV or playtime, brushing teeth, and going to bed. By observing this routine, your babysitter will likely feel better about implementing the same type of rules and schedule when he or she is with your kids by themselves.

4. Go Over the Nighttime Routine: Arguably the most important part of babysitting overnight is implementing and following the established nighttime routine you have with your kids. Think about what your normal night looks like. What are your kids doing? How are they behaving? Do you have dinner together? Do they have schoolwork to do? Is there a curfew? Is there a limit to TV time or video games? By asking yourself those questions, and more, you can give your babysitter clear expectations with little room for miscommunication or error. Additionally, if you are going to be out until the following morning, establish a morning routine as well, which could include helping with baths, getting breakfast cooked, cleaning up, etc.

5. Have Emergency Contacts, Medicine, and First-Aid On Hand: In any babysitting situation, it’s absolutely necessary to have a go-to emergency kit that contains contact information, like your name, a guardian’s name, the name of the family doctor, poison control, 911, etc. to be accessed immediately and used when needed. Additionally, having any prescription medications your kids take, as well as over-the-counter ones like ibuprofen, allergy medicine, cough and cold medicine, and more should be easily accessed by your babysitter. Lastly, a first-aid kit that contains things like band-aids, gauze, antibiotic ointment, hot/cold packs, alcohol wipes, etc. is great to have on hand for minor cuts, scrapes, and injuries.

6. Provide Games and Entertainment: Kids are constantly looking for things to stimulate their minds and entertain them. It would be tough for your babysitter to work with your kids without some means of being able to entertain them. Granted, all parents have different standards and limits to what they want their kids to play with or watch, but nonetheless, it’s good to have some fun activities, toys, games, and movies to watch to keep your kids occupied while you’re away. Doing crafts, playing board games, making food, etc., are all age-appropriate, fun activities that your kids can do. Come up with a list to give to your babysitter to help them with this.

7. Stick to Your Schedule: Respect goes a long way in the world, it is a universal currency that transcends culture, language, and background. Avoid canceling at the last minute, or spontaneously asking them to drop everything to sit for you one night. Rather, be understanding of their life and schedule by working around their obligations. Additionally, if your babysitter is sick or needs time off for familial, school, or other reasons, be mindful of that and make adjustments accordingly.

Hiring a babysitter to watch your kids overnight is a big leap, and don’t kick yourself if it takes a while to get used to the idea. As long as you find someone you are comfortable with and prepare them with rules beforehand, everyone should have a pleasant experience all around.

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